Malaysia has issued a travel ban for a gay party that, according to its organizer, isn't real.
Datuk Seri Mustafar Ali, the director-general of the country's Immigration Department, said all foreigners who planned to attend a rumored event this week promoting White Party Bangkok, Asia's largest gay circuit party, would be denied access to the country.
"Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr.Ahmad Zahid Hamidi had instructed me not to allow them to enter the country, and I had also conveyed the information to the 137 entry points managed by us," Mustafar Ali said Sunday at a press conference at tthe Penang International Airport.
"The beer festival or gay party is against our country's culture, and we will be strict in denying their entry," he added. The ban also applies to expected attendees of the Better Beer Festival, a real-life craft beer celebration in October.
Ali said Immigration Department was working in tandem with the Malaysia Islamic Development Department and police to identify confirmed attendees, red-flag them in advance of the events, and give them "not to land" notices.
However, that "not to land" list might be a short one — at least for the gay party. In response to the press conference, a representative of Cloud 9 Inc., which produces White Party Bangkok, claimed that reports of an event this week in Malaysia were false. The company issued a statement to New Strait Times in order to stem the spread of fake news as well as rumors circulating on messenger apps.
"Cloud 9 holds the White Party franchise in Asia and has no intention of bringing the event to Malaysia," stated producer Blue Satittammanoon, who said festival events would be held only in Thailand.
"There is no White Party festival as claimed in the press in any part of Malaysia on Sept. 30, or any [other] time," Satittammanoon added.
Regardless, the travel ban on a gay party — real or not — comes as no surprise in Malaysia. Sodomy laws are still on the books in the predominantly Muslim nation, and discrimination against LGBT people is "pervasive," according to the Human Rights Watch.
Earlier this year, the country attempted, unsuccessfully, to excise the "gay moment" from Disney's live-action Beauty and the Beast. And in June, the government's Health Ministry offered a cash prize for the best "gay prevention" video.